Oilmen make a comeback

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CHRIS GREENTREE, ousted as chief executive of Lasmo, the struggling oil explorer, with a pounds 2.2m payoff last year, is poised to make stock market comeback in Canada, writes Neil Thapar.

Mr Greentree, who grew up in Saskatoon, Alberta and is now based at a luxury condominium in Portugal, has emerged as chairman of Xxtra Oil, which he set set up with two ex-Lasmo chums in Calgary late last year.

The business, which is currently privately owned, plans to raise up to Cdollars 60m ( pounds 30m) on the Alberta and Toronto stock exchanges later this year.

The move will help to build up a Cdollars 100m war chest aimed at investing in oil and gas exploration projects throughout the world, although it will initially focus on North America. Mr Greentree, who was widely blamed for Lasmo's ill-fated pounds 1bn takeover of Ultramar four years ago, will be responsible for masterminding Xxtra Oil's growth.

David Smith, its chief executive, is ex-president of Lasmo Canada, while Norman Miller, another former Lasmo executive, is chief operating officer.

Patrick Shore, finance director, said: 'We plan to raise new funds with a public offer during 1994 and this is likely to be timed with major deals.'

Xxtra believes there are considerable opportunities for joint ventures, as other oil companies may be squeezed by cash-flow shortfalls due to the weak oil price.

However, it is not expected to enter into any deals with Lasmo, which struggled with financial problems ever since Mr Greentree spearheaded the Ultramar takeover.

Since then, Lasmo's share price has collapsed from about 300p to 127p last Friday. Despite raising pounds 1bn from disposals, the group's have soared to about pounds 800m. However, Xxtra Oil pointed out that during Mr Greentree's 11-year stint at Lasmo, the company increased its oil reserves by a factor of 10, while its production rose five- fold.

(Photograph omitted)